Carol McGiffin, the outspoken star of ITV’s Loose Women, thought she’d hate everything about cruising. So what changed her mind?
You’re just back from your first cruise – how did you find it?
A thousand times better than I expected! I thought I’d hate it, but it turned out to be one of my best holidays ever.
I absolutely loved having to pack and unpack just the once – though my fiancé Mark’s favourite thing was the metre-long pizzas! We also had the privilege of dining with the captain, which made it all the more special.
What were your preconceptions before you got on board?
I imagined it would be a nightmarish hell of huge crowds, where we’d struggle to get served at the bar or find a sunbed by the pool. But our ship, MSC Divina, was so big and roomy that it never felt busy, despite having nearly 4,000 passengers on board.
I also thought the sea days would be boring, but I was wrong again. In fact we loved the ship so much that we didn’t want to get off. But when we tried it, we found that was easy too.
What did your fellow Loose Women presenters say when they heard you were taking your first cruise?
Two words: JaneMcDonald! She is the queen of cruising and she was quite amused because I’d always slated cruise ships and sworn I’d never set foot on one.
Which of your fellow presenters would you love to cruise with, and who would drive you mad?
Oh, they’d all drive me mad! But it would be a brilliant thing to do because there’s so much on offer that everyone could go off and do their own thing.
I’m not going to single out the girls I’d prefer to go with but I’m sure there are a few who’d prefer not to be on a cruise with me because I’m too much of a boozer!
Would you ever consider putting together a Loose Women cruise and doing a few shows on board for the fans?
Well, I wouldn’t put it together, as I’m far too lazy to organise anything, but if someone else did the hard work I’d definitely be up for it.
I imagine a few of the other girls would be too – I know Denise Welch loves a cruise and has already been on quite a few.
What have been your best and worst holiday experiences?
The best was when Mark and I went to Japan. To our Western eyes it seemed so magnificently different in every way, and we loved to see how their culture and all their ancient customs are being preserved. And of course their food is the best in the world.
My worst experience was in Thailand when the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami happened. We were staying in Phuket, near the beach, and we had to climb on to our hotel roof to avoid being swept away. It was completely terrifying, although it hasn’t put me off going back to Thailand – not one bit.
What advice would you give to somebody who is new to cruise?
Just enjoy it for what it is. Don’t overthink it, like I did – and get a drinks package!